10 Tips For Shopping A Consignment Sale Successfully

I am so excited to take my Mom to one of my favorite consignment sales, Classy Kids. I have been raving about these sales for months and now she finally gets to experience it herself! I have been meaning to post a few tips I have learned over the last two years and thought it was a perfect time to put something together.

Do your homework before the sale
There are many similarities between consignment sales but it is always important to check the website to make sure you have read the specific ones for that event. It will make your experience a little calmer and a lot more enjoyable. Here are a few things I always check out before heading out:
– What days and times they are open?
– Do they have a 50% off or $1 Dash day?
– Where is parking and is it free?
– Do the offer early admission for new or expecting moms, teachers or daycare workers?
– Do they offer early admission for volunteers or barterers?
– Review their rules and guidelines (cash only, no strollers, only strollers without baskets, can you bring your own bag, etc…)

Make a list and check it twice
It’s always good to take an inventory of what you child has for the current and next season to make a rough list of what you need. If you have multiple kids, it is helpful to have a cheat sheet of their clothing size, shoe size and head size. This is one of my favorites parts because it really gets me excited about a consignment sale. I love a bargain and these sales are pretty much like Christmas to me. I usually have one list of items we definitely need and then a wish list of items if the price is right.

Precious cargo
You want to make sure you find out if strollers are allowed at the sale. There are some where you cannot bring in your own, but they have some available to use (usually old umbrella strollers). Just like Disney is a great place to window shop for strollers, consignment sales are a perfect place to window shop for carriers. I flip back and forth on which I prefer. It’s nice to back-wear P and not have to worry about pushing everything. However, it is a lot easier to inspect big ticket items, carry things and entertain P when he is in the stroller. If your sale doesn’t allow strollers and you can spare a few dollars, I would dash to the big ticket section and pick up an umbrella stroller to use while there AND take home. One of the last times I went I forgot our stroller so I just picked one there for $5 and took it home with me. It’s a great spare to have around.

Spouses can come too
Shhh, they may not be too happy with me telling you this 😉 It’s great to go with a spouse or even a friend. You can go your separate ways to find what you specifically need and then meet up in line and show off your finds while you wait. We tend to make them more of a family outing and enjoy shopping together for things.

Use smart technology

Generally, deals at a consignment sale are fantastic. I could technically calculate the exact amount I have saved since I record everything, but who has that kind of time with a 13 month old running around. For larger purchases, I will often glance quickly at Amazon to see what the normal retail price is. I think over the last 2 years and about 15 consignment sales, I have only found a few prices that were too high.

Numbers can be good or bad
For the big ticket items, you will often see a decent quantity of the same thing. This could be good or bad. It could have been a really popular item that was on everyone’s must have list. It could also be that the item was poorly made or didn’t live up to standards and the owner(s) wanted it out of the house ASAP. This is another reason why it is a good idea to have a smartphone with you so you can look it up quickly.

Browse and repeat
I definitely recommend going around the sale a few times and even come back another day if possible. You will be amazed how much you can miss with your first glance. I have gone to quite a few of these and can still get a little overwhelmed at times. I usually prioritize my list with the big ticket items first as those are the first to go. Then I take my time browsing the clothes, accessories and small toys. I have been known to go to the new moms pre-sale and then the 50% off day.

Know what you are buying
Make sure to look at not only the price but also the brand. Brands such as Jumping Beans, Circo, Carter’s and Old Navy should not be priced higher than Gymboree, Children’s Place or Baby Gap. If they are, pass it on by. You also want to keep in mind how the size in each brand usually run. Some run smaller, larger or have a tendency to have a smaller opening for heads or shrink easily.

Gerber runs almost a full size small
Circo runs shorter and wider
Swimsuits and sleepwear should be purchased a little bigger
Overalls look bigger than they really are and tend to be true to size
If you cloth diaper, you may want to consider buying onesies one size bigger

Please, pretty please DO NOT purchase car seats. While it isn’t illegal to buy them used, I really do not recommend it. You have no idea the history of the car seat or if it was in an accident. Even a minor fender bender can damage integrity of the car seat making it more vulnerable to another accident. Car seats also have an expiration for safety standards.

Sometimes in life, the best things are free 

Hangers are like gold to consignors. Most sales require outfits on outfit hangers and tagged together. Usually there are huge cardboard boxes along the checkout line where you can place unwanted hangers making checkout quicker. While others are placing hangers in, I am taking them out! Don’t worry though, I always ask if it is okay. Most of time they say, “you must be a consignor”. In which I usually respond that I like to hang as much of P’s clothes up as possible. It makes like a little easier especially if I can hang outfits together on an outfit hanger. I scored the jackpot at this last sale!

Don’t let germs stop you
Sometimes I get some flack for shopping at consignment sales. It is usually from people who have never been to one. I would say that 95% of Parker’s clothing and toys are from consignment sales or hand-me-downs from generous friends. I have saved hundreds of dollars shopping consignment and honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. I know toys can be a little intimidating for some. I always check to see if there are any bite marks on them. That is pretty much my only deal breaker. When I get home, I completely sanitize them with Dapple.

I am pretty proud of the deals I have been able to score and wanted to share some of them to show you what is out there! I couldn’t believe that I picked up a Ju-Ju-Be diaper bag in practically new condition for $30 or a Pottery Barn drawing table for $10.


  1. Jessica Odenbaugh August 17, 2013 at 1:15 am

    I usually buy mostly clothes but I got a Joovy Caboose Sit and Stand stroller for $20 at one sale!

  2. musingsonmotherhoodmidlife August 18, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Great tips here. I haven’t shopped at a consignment sale yet (sold at one) but this is great advice for the day that I do.

  3. Brittany B August 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I haven’t been to one yet, I love that shelf you got P though!!

  4. Emily @ Baby Dickey August 18, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    I loooove shopping consignment sales!! And these are great tips – can’t believe I’ve never stopped to check Amazon prices, etc. And the free hangers are definitely a perk 😉

  5. lisa August 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    I love consignment shops, estate sales…I’ve found some really good items. You need to get there early. And, as you say, do your homework.

  6. Jennifer August 19, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Although I occasionally get the side eye from friends, I love consignment sales – especially for baby/toddler items! We’ve gotten so many things and saved so much money, how could I not like them? 🙂

  7. Mama B August 20, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Great tips! I’ve never been to a consignment sale (nor have I sold at one) but there is a huge one not far from me that I’m really excited about!

  8. kelley wood August 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    This is my kind of sale! I love to buy and sell consignment. I have really found good deals in the past.

  9. jesicaj1 August 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Great way to save money, and definitely sanitize those toys…we do the same!

  10. 8 Tips & Tricks for Selling Consignment December 11, 2014 at 12:02 am

    […] been shopping consignment sales for about 3 years now and a few months ago decided to share my top 10 Tips For Shopping Consignment Sales. While I am still new to consigning, I also had a few tips I wanted to pass along for anything […]

Leave a Reply